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May 14, 2007

Reinventing Rebecca Romijn

She used to be the cool blonde on the runway; now she's the hot transsexual on Ugly Betty. Rebecca Romijn is in love again and having the most fun of her professional life.

rebecca romijin in green dress

Photo Credit: James White

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Rebecca Romijn, casually attired in a black knee-length sweater, black leggings, and black boots, her hair up in a ponytail, is loping around the Raleigh Studios set of the miraculous little hit show Ugly Betty, a comedy about life at a fashion magazine. Describing the episode she's working on, in which her character, a glam transgender woman named Alexis, finally gets some sugar from a hot Brazilian named Rodrigo, she grows giddy, and I think I know why. Acting prospects for a genetic marvel like Romijn, 34, a towering blonde who did hard time as a model, are iffy at best; her kind is frequently relegated to eye-candy cameos and gawk-worthy oddities, like her role as the shape-shifter Mystique in X-Men, which found her in head-to-toe blue body paint. A challenging part in a well-written series is the holy grail, and she's attained it.

"I'm sort of always thinking about the show," she says, before we climb into her "groovy little Prius" and head off to dinner. "Hour-long TV is no joke. It tests you as a human being. It makes you a stronger person, but it's really crazy." Recently, she smacked up the Prius driving home from work at 6:30 a.m. "I was deliriously tired, and I got lost on the back lot trying to find my way out," she explains. "And I found myself wedged between a gate and a wall, and I just sat in my car and cried."

Tonight, without incident, she manages the five-block drive to Lucy El Adobe, a legendary Mexican restaurant on Melrose where the likes of John, Bobby, and Teddy Kennedy, Jack Nicholson, Joni Mitchell, Jerry Brown, and Linda Ronstadt have slurped down the guacamole. She squeezes her leggy self into a booth under autographed pictures of Drew Barrymore and Andy Garcia and orders a Dos Equis. Romijn tells me she didn't think twice about accepting the role of Alexis. For more information on Rebecca Romjin and Ugly Betty, visit ABC.com

"I don't know-it felt perfect for me," she says. "The only thing that made me nervous was that I have a couple friends who are transgender, and it's a really sensitive subject for them, obviously, so every choice that I make, I think about them. I would never, ever, ever want to insult or offend. The role is going to open itself up to people's jokes-I mean, that's just the way it is. But I want to make everybody aware that I am not the unofficial spokesperson for the transgender community."

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